Aaaaalmost Summer


Ahhh June.  55 degrees and gray skies with a chance of drizzle. Summer solstice is 2 days away, yet I will be wearing my sandals with woolen socks until Seattle’s actual 1st day of summer – July 5. But we bozos who live here, we hang in there, because we know its just about to get reeaaally good. For about 2 weeks.  But its totally worth it, right?  Right?

Anyway, though I would love to be making chopped salads from the garden every day until I turn green from chlorophyll, I am still making hearty dishes to warm me up from the inside.  So here is a recent favorite for all of you who need a little warming up.  It is slightly adapted from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Melissa Clark. She also writes for the NY Times, and her recipes are always right up my alley – straightforward, hearty and mouthwatering good. If you are one of my friends in New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin or pretty much anywhere but the Pacific Northwest, turn up the swamp cooler, put on a hoodie, and preheat your oven.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon and Olives – adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

*Serve this with polenta, buttery noodles, or just in a bowl with a spoon

2lbs pork shoulder – cut into 2 inch chunks

Kosher or sea salt

2 TB cooking oil

1 large shallot or 1 small red onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 TB brown sugar

1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes

1 Cup  dry red wine (or use 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar & 3/4 cup water)

5 anchovies (I don’t care if you don’t like them, put them in)

2 – inch piece cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

2 big sprigs marjoram or rosemary

2/3 Cup pitten green olives

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Season the pork pieces with about a tablespoon of salt.  In a dutch oven or other heavy pan, warm the oil over medium high heat and sear the pork in batches (don’t crowd the pan man).  Brown on 3 sides, this takes 8-10 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the pork, and transfer pork to a plate as it is done. 

Turn the heat down to medium, add the shallot/onion and garlic to the porky pan and cook, stirring a few times, for 1-2 minutes.  Put the pork back  in the pan and add the sugar, tomatoes, wine, anchovies, cinnamon, bay and marjoram or rosemary.  Cover with a lid or carefully with foil, and put in the oven to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Remove pan from oven and add the olives.  If you’d like it to be a bit thicker, leave the lid off and simmer over medium heat until it thickens a bit.  It will thicken up as it cools also.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over  polenta, noodles, or eat it from the pot while standing over the stove in your woolen socks in the middle of June.